- There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
- Robert Heinlein, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
Web based email provides access to your email
from any web browser, anywhere.
Starting in the mid-1990's, many different companies began marrying two Internet technologies by providing email over the web. Because email transmission is
low bandwidth, many of these services were free or inexpensive, and some still
are. They usually provide access to email by
onto a web
password, and then displaying a screen in HTML that looks like an email
program with mailboxes and folders, reply and forward buttons, etc. The key
advantage of these services is that you don't need to carry anything with
you as you
move around -- you can check your email from any web browser, anywhere, even
around the world.
The disadvantage of web based email services is that they don't
always have as many features as full desktop email applications, or you may have
to pay for extra features, such as increases to limits on the size of attachments
you can send and store. Web based systems are also not
email application running directly on your computer, since there is inherently
much less delay on the bus of a local computer than when communicating
with a web site server across the Internet.
All you need to use these
web email services from any browser are your email address on the site and password.
If you use the same computer all of the time and have configured your browser
then you might have the option to save your settings so you can access your email
directly without having to log in each time.
Because the web has a built in
encryption protocol, it is fairly easy to add encryption to web based email
systems so that messages coming and going between you and the server
are completely safeguarded from disclosure. However, note this confidentiality
is only between you and the server -- messages carried between that server
and your correspondents are sent
over normal SMTP, unencrypted and in the
clear (only message encryption provides
Some web based sites
also provide free POP3 access, so you can use
a normal email program like Outlook or Eudora to access your email as well as
the web browser. Conversely, there are sites that
let you check your usual POP3 email on the web when you are away from your usual
computer, which is particularly useful while traveling.
Resources. The following pages index various web based email